Little-known MaliVai Washington shockingly defeated the second-best pro player in the world, Ivan Lendl, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, in the Volvo International ATP Championships yesterday in New Haven, Conn.
Washington, an American ranked 103rd in the world, jumped to early leads in both sets and never lost his service. Lendl, who could not find any kind of rhythm in his game, was simply overwhelmed.
"I did not feel comfortable at all tonight," said Lendl. "I just wasn't at my best. I guess I'll have to devote more time to practicing for the Open."
The loss put to rest any Lendl hopes of regaining his world No. 1 rank from Stefan Edberg, who seized it last week with a victory in a San Diego ATP tournament.
Washington, a Glen Cove, N.Y., native who has never won a major tournament, surprised himself, winning in a mere 73 minutes.
"I never stopped to think I was playing the second-best player in the world," said Washington. "I just had time to play my game and take on the guy across the net."
Slims of Los Angeles: Top-seeded Martina Navratilova, playing for the first time since injuring her left Achilles' tendon last week, overpowered Debbie Graham, 6-1, 6-2, in a second-round match of the $350,000 Virginia Slims of Los Angeles in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
The match was the first for Navratilova since she won the singles championship at Wimbledon in June.
In other second-round action, fifth-seeded Katerina Maleeva overpowered Dinky Van Rensburg, 6-1, 6-1; sixth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez eliminated Claudine Toleafoa, 6-2, 6-2; ninth-seeded Amy Frazier beat Tami Whitlinger, 7-5, 6-3, and Stephanie Rehe upset 15th-seeded Gigi Fernandez, 6-3, 6-3.
U.S. Men's Hardcourt: Top-seeded Boris Becker relied on his trademark serve and solid ground strokes to defeat Brian Garrow, 6-3, 6-4. No. 2 seed Andre Agassi dispatched Robert Seguso, 6-2, 6-3, in 57 minutes.